7.11.14 Issue #644 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Why Donít Your Employees Measure Up?
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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It stands to reason that most dental practice team members are far more likely to succeed when they know what is expected of them, when they have goals to achieve, when they are part of an overall effort to attain a common objective, and when they know what path to follow. It seems so profoundly simple and obvious, as fundamental as turning on the lights, unlocking the doors, and opening the practice for business each morning. Yet this simple concept is often lost on dental practice owners. Commonly, the assumption among doctors is that employees “instinctively know” what is expected of them, particularly if they have worked in another practice.

McKenzie Management consultants walk into countless offices where the doctor can’t understand why employees don’t just “do their jobs” and employees can’t understand why the doctor “won’t tell them what s/he wants.” Consistently, the culprit is lack of or weak performance measurement systems. Successfully measuring employee performance requires a clear and well-defined strategy, and it starts with four key steps.

Step #1 - Create specific job descriptions for each employee. This can be the ideal tool to explain to employees exactly what is expected of them. Define the job that each staff member is responsible for performing. Specify the skills the person in the position should have. Outline the specific duties and responsibilities of the job. Include the job title, a summary of the position, and a list of job duties.
Avoid the common yet dangerous pitfall of overlapping job duties. Instead, cross-train so that each area has coverage when the point person is out ill or is unavailable. If you overlap duties, employees are given tasks but not responsibility. The work might get done, but it won’t necessarily be done right. This leads to frustration. The team member wants to take ownership for a particular system, but can’t because it’s not “her/his system” to oversee. It’s simply not in the practice’s best interest to have multiple people responsible for areas such as collections or scheduling.

You can purchase downloadable and customizable job descriptions on my website HERE.

Step #2 - Create a culture for success. Provide the necessary equipment and tools to perform the job. Provide training to help team members carry out the job duties most effectively. If your expectation is that your scheduling coordinator be accountable for scheduling to a specific daily, weekly, or monthly goal, s/he will likely need some professional training to learn how to effectively communicate with patients. S/he will need to learn about the pros and cons of blocking the schedule and the importance of monitoring the unscheduled treatment reports. Success is created, it doesn’t just happen.

Explain what is expected of employees and how their performance will be measured. If you expect your assistants to achieve an 85% case acceptance, they need to know this. If it’s your expectation that they give a daily report on post-treatment calls, they need to be told. If you expect them to convert 75% of emergency patients to comprehensive exam patients and to keep the cost of dental supplies at no more than 5% of practice collections, make sure that direction is abundantly clear.

Step #3 - What gets measured gets done. Appraise employee performance using an effective performance appraisal instrument that evaluates key areas such as:

• The employee’s ability to follow instructions
• Their willingness to help others and cooperate with others
• The incidents of errors in their work
• Their initiative, commitment, and innovation in carrying out responsibilities and improving workflow
• Their work ethic, attitude, and individual productivity

Step #4 - Give ongoing direction and constructive feedback. Too many dentists ignore issues indefinitely or wait until there’s a serious problem or crisis before they give staff any feedback. Be specific. Don’t candy-coat the feedback and don’t beat around the bush. Tell employees what they’re doing well and what needs to be adjusted. Give praise publicly, and if you must be critical of an employee’s actions do so privately. 

When you provide your team with clear direction they have the opportunity to do more than just perform a task. They can excel. Remember, the vast majority of employees want to deliver a quality work product. They want to feel they are part of a harmonious team that not only enjoys working together but also is committed to succeeding together.

For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
Interested in having McKenzie Management Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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